[FOUNTAIN]They’ve got China’s numberThe principles of China’s foreign policies are often associated with numbers.
Since the days of Mao Zedong, Beijing has based its foreign policy on the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence”: mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence. The Five Principles contributed to the newly established People’s Republic of China’s emergence as a leader of the nonaligned nations. They also became the basis for the 10-point “declaration of the promotion of world peace and cooperation,” adopted by the first Asian-African Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955. Premier Zhou Enlai, who was also the foreign minister at the time, played a major role in advocating the Five Principles. The Five Principles are always included in constitutional clauses, friendly treaties and major agreements involving China.
After the end of the Cold War, Beijing’s foreign policy followed a 16-[Chinese] letter strategy, to “calmly observe, respond with composure, hide brightness and nourish obscurity and never stand in the front.” In 1991, former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping set those guidelines right after a failed coup by the Soviet conservative faction. The country used the strategy to cope with the post-Cold War changes. Foreign policy strategies included “Hiding the brightness of the blade and growing power in the darkness” and “never to stand in the front.”
The spirit of Mr. Deng was succeeded by Jiang Zemin. However, as Beijing began to focus more on “rising” than on doing so peacefully, the slogan disappeared from official statements two years ago. Instead, Beijing used “peaceful development.” Lately, China has been increasingly mentioning “active participation and acting at will.” It is a Chinese version of the interference policy, and the six-party meeting is said to be a product of that policy.
China’s diplomacy is being tested by North Korea’s missile launches. Beijing’s reputation was damaged after Pyongyang ignored Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s open warning.
Beijing’s basic principles in relation to North Korea are to “continue the legacy, aim at the future, stay a good neighbor and reinforce cooperation.” Jiang Zemin reinforced those principles with Pyongyang back in 2001, and Hu Jintao once again confirmed them during his visit to the North last year. With the latest missile crisis, China might need to prepare a new set of North Korean policy guidelines.
by Oh Young-hwan
The writer is a deputy political news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.